As we say goodbye, or perhaps more aptly, good riddance to 2020, I just took delivery of the L-Plate that I’d had on order with Really Right Stuff, and I also included a few other handy accessories in my order, which I’m going to share with you today, as I build out my system for carrying my cameras as well as supporting them on a tripod. The Really Right Stuff team continues to make excellent products and they definitely aren’t simply sitting on their laurels when it comes to innovation, as you’ll see.
One of the biggest innovations with their current line-up of brackets is the addition of a whole called a QD Socket that houses their Quick Detach Strap Swivel Loops, and they facilitate the quick attachment of a camera strap, which, coupled with the Peak Design straps that I use, enables me to create a sling configuration for both long and short lens scenarios. I love being able to do this so much, that we might as well start with a photo of my EOS R5 with the new L-Plate attached, and a QD Strap Swivel D Loop attached so that you can see how this positions the camera when slung over the shoulder. Having the camera slung in this position puts the camera’s grip straight into the palm of my hand when I’m ready to raise it to my eye.
Click of tap on the image to open it up in the Lightbox to view it larger, but note here that the lens is hanging down, not straight out as it does when you hang the camera around your neck supported by a strap attached to the built-in strap lugs. This is important because it not only means the camera falls more comfortably into your hand, but it also makes it less likely to bang the camera and potentially the front of the lens as you walk around.
I should mention that as I’m paranoid about things potentially going wrong, I do occasionally check to ensure that the lens is not working loose, but I’ve never noticed a lens doing that. I did have the body fall off the lens when using a Black Rapid strap attached only to the lens, a couple of times actually, but that was probably more a design flaw of the older Canon bodies rather than the strap system. Still, it wasn’t great, and that’s why I started to do things like thread a long camera strap base through the Black Rapid Straps, but now that I’m using the Peak Design Straps and their smaller loops, I’m preventing the possibility of this happening by slinging longer lenses how you can see in this next image.
As you can see, I bought two QD Strap loops so that I could create this sling configuration as well, attaching one to the L-Plate, and the second to an L85 Lens Plate, which I also just bought for the Canon RF 100-500mm lens, and that also has the new QD Socket both on the front and back of the plate. I could, of course, put both QD Strap loops into the plate on the lens, but that then leaves my camera free to fall to the ground if it did come loose as my old 1D4 did.
I actually think the RF Mount is probably less susceptible to that kind of rotation, and I recall hearing that Canon had made improvements in this area, but I like to cover my bases, and so I attach one loop to each piece of equipment. That also means that both are being pulled up from their bases, and that removes any force that could potentially cause the camera to rotate anyway. And again, this also puts the camera’s grip in the palm of my hand as I sling this over my body. I generally have the strap over my left shoulder with the camera hanging down on my right side, and it works really well in this configuration.
The D Loop itself is an ingenious little invention and they are incredibly strong. The RRS Website quotes both 450 lbs and 300 lbs of pull pressure for these devices, and although I imagine one number is for the D loop itself and the second for the main attachment, it doesn’t really clarify which it is, but either way, 300 lbs is the lower of the two, and that is more than enough for me to not worry about this coming loose unintentionally. Also, both to insert and release the QD Strap loops, you have to press the central column and there is no way you could do that accidentally while supporting the camera.
The D Loop is just $12 on B&H Photo, but I should note that if you wanted to feed a flat strap directly through the loop, as opposed to the Peak Design Loop that I’m using, there is a low profile loop also available although that’s $29, but it is more suitable if you’re using a flat strap. As we’ve come this far, we might as well take a closer look at the L85 Lens Plate before going into detail on the L-Plate, so here is a photo of the underside of the L85 Lens Plate.
Note the two little grub-screws at the front and back edge of the plate. These are to stop the plate from slipping out of the quick release clamp on the tripod should the lever come loose. They won’t, of course, prevent it from falling out if the lever is completely opened, but a loose lever is covered here. You also get a closer look at those QD Sockets that we mentioned earlier. I am actually more a fan of the complete replacement lens feet that Really Right Stuff usually make, but they don’t have anything for the Canon RF 100-500mm lens yet, and they couldn’t say if there were plans to produce one, so I went for the multi-purpose L85 for now.
And finally, before we move on, here’s a shot of the 100-500mm lens with the EOS R5 sitting proudly on top of my old and very trusted Really Right Stuff BH-55. It’s a bit beaten up, and I have to admit to cloning out a few scratches in these photos, but after more than 12 years of use I have no reason to replace this workhorse ball-head.
Canon EOS R5 & R6 L-Plate
OK, so let’s take a closer look now at the new L-Plate which is designed for use with both the Canon EOS R5 and the R6, and this again has a number of innovative improvements. The first as I’ve mentioned is the QD Socket to enable the attachment of the QD loop, and the other thing is the addition of the sliding plate that you can see in this image of the underside of the L-Plate. In the image to the right below, I aligned just this silver plate with the screw thread and registration hole in the bottom of the EOS R5, so that you can see what’s happening.
The slider is basically prevented from rotating because it’s fixed in two separate locations, so the L-Plate feels really secure when fixed to the camera, even though there is only one locking nut. There is also the inclusion of a short hex key held into place under the L-Plate with two strong magnets, so it’s always there when you need to loosen or remove the Plate. I actually have a hex key on my keyring which is always in my pocket, but this is a nice addition. In fact, I may even now remove the one from my keyring.
As you can see in the next image, the slider mechanism enables us to loosen the L-Plate and slide it out to the left of the camera, allowing for easier access to the cable ports, which is especially useful if you shoot tethered video or stills, and need to put the cable holders into position. You can access the cable ports without doing this, but these larger attachments take a little more room, so it’s nice to have this option.
There is also a gap in the vertical plate for the L-Plate which enables us to rotate the articulated LCD for up to 35 degrees when extended out to the side. You cannot simply rotate it freely though, so I’ve decided to stick with a regular base plate for my second camera, although I do like having an L-Plate of my camera as it also protects it from getting knocked around, especially when shooting on a rocking boat, for example. My L-Plates usually end up with white paint on them from the sides of boats, and I’m always grateful that it’s the plate and not my camera that is taking the knocks.
Of course, the major benefit to using an L-Plate is because it provides the ability to flip the camera up into portrait orientation on the tripod and keep the center of gravity in the center of the system, unlike when you flop the camera over on its side in the ball-head, which I really dislike having to do. With the L-Plate you hardly lose any height of the viewfinder and it is simply so much better balanced in portrait orientation.
This is only an issue, of course, when using shorter lenses. With longer lenses like the 100-500mm, I simply loosen the tripod ring locking screw and rotate the camera and lens into portrait orientation, because the camera is mounted with the lenses plate not the L-Plate.
OK, so a relatively short episode to end the year with, but I hope you found that useful. As usual, if you did find this useful and would like to help keep a roof over my head, please by with the B&H Affiliate Links in this post and below. The price is unchanged to you, but it does help to keep the lights on, so using these links is very much appreciated. And to end, I’d like to wish you a safe and peaceful 2021.
A couple of episodes back I talked about a selection of images from our local park, the Jindai Botanical Park and Gardens. I’ve been watching the updates for some autumnal color, and this morning went for a walk to see what I could make of it. As with the previous episode, these photos are really just everyday shots, nothing special, but I’ll share some points on what I was thinking as I shot them, to hopefully make this useful to you. I plan to go back again next week, as the color in the maple leaves becomes a little more widespread. I rarely shoot the wider scene, preferring to get in close and find little intimate corners of the woods in the park to isolate, often against a dark or colorful background, as you’ll see.
To set the scene though, here is a quick iPhone shot of the maple garden, to give you get a sense of the bigger picture, as it were. You can see that the colors are still patchy, and it might turn out that this is as good as it will get this year. The conditions for really good color have been a little off the mark, and I have a feeling, especially considering the number of fallen leaves already visible in this shot, that we might lose too many of the early colored leaves before the remaining green ones change color. That will result in a bit of a flop for the larger picture, but as that isn’t what interests me, I’m not too concerned.
We’ll jump towards the end of my shoot in this corner of the park, so that I can share a shot made from the same spot as my iPhone photo, to give you an idea of how I frame my shots to make what I do. This is not quite as intimate as the rest of the shots I’ll share, but I like the overall mood of the image, so think it’s worth sharing.
First, in the iPhone shot (above), look at the tree to the left of the leftmost person in the shot. The tree is on the left third intersection. This next shot (left) is the yellow leaves framed from just above the top of the steps that you can see in the distance in the iPhone shot, below the yellow leaves, to the left of that tree’s trunk, which runs down the right side of my second image here, shot with the Canon EOS R5 and the RF 100-500mm lens.
As you can see, the play of the light as it hits some of the leaves against the deeper shadows can be quite effective. I find this contrast very appealing, and actually added a very subtle S-curve to the Luma Tone-Curve in Capture One Pro to enhance that slightly, as well as adding an also very subtle vignette, darkening down the corners by one stop, which helps to guide the eye to the middle of the frame a little More.
This isn’t as zoomed in as most of the other shots I’ll share, as I wanted to show a little more of the scene here. I went to a vertical orientation to show the stacked layers of leaves, and I also wanted to have that tree trunk running up the right side of the frame, as I like the way that closes off the line of sight, keeping the eye in the frame after running down the diagonal lines that the leaves form.
Let’s wind the clock back an hour now though, and take a look at one of the first photos that I took when I arrived at the maple garden, and this time, it’s a much more intimate scene. I find the larger scene too busy and generally look for small sections to isolate, and this shot was made at 500mm. The fallen red leaf is what caught my eye, so my j ob here was really to find a place in the frame to position the leaf for what I consider to be the optimum composition.
The leaf is pointing to the right, so placing it on the left seemed like an obvious choice. I was hand-holding the camera but still very careful to frame the shot in a way that didn’t really dissect anything important, and I was also conscious of the placement of that smaller out of focus maple leaf just to the right of the center of the bottom center of the frame. I opened up the aperture as wide as it would go, which is f/7.1 at the full extent of 500mm. I wanted as little of the scene in focus as possible, to stop us being able to see too much, which would make this look more cluttered.
The light hits the ground in patches, as the sun shines through breaks in the tree canopy. You can see that the bottom left corner is slightly dark, as the sun’s light was filtered by the edge of some higher leaves. This means that I had to be aware of what was happening with the light for each of the subjects that I chose. This is also why it took me an hour to walk the fifty paces or so that it takes to get from one end of the maple garden to the other.
In this next shot, you can see that I caught the light hitting a few red and green leaves against a relatively brightly lit distant background. I moved around until I got that dark patch behind the main brightly lit red leaf, to again add contrast, which I think is an important element of these images. You can see that the light from the leaves in the distance is forming balls from the effect of the lens’s aperture. This again was shot at 500mm and an aperture of f/7.1, so it’s great to see that this lens can give us such nice bokeh in these conditions.
Still hand-holding at this point, I was once again very conscious of the positioning of the edges of the frame. I went back to vertical or portrait orientation because the twig with the leaves was dangling down into the frame, and there was also a tree trunk or branch to the right and something else to the left that I didn’t want to include.
As I’ve said before, one of the most important jobs of the photographer is to decide what to leave out of the frame. That can play as important a role in the success of a photograph as what we decide to include.
Although the red leaves in the next shot (below) are getting a little bit tired, it’s one of my favorite shots from this short shoot. I love the shape of the tree trunk as it forms an arch along the left side of the frame.
I also find the color palette very pleasing. I suspected that the reds and greens were complementary colors, which I confirmed by opening up an application I use called Spectrum, and imported the photo to find the key colors. Here is a screenshot, in which you’ll see that the main reds and greens fall approximately one-third apart on the color wheel. This means that they are two parts of a triad, which makes them complementary and aesthetically pleasing to look at.
I also just like that deep green as a solitary color, which is why I chose this angle to align the leaves with this patch of background. Moving just a little to the right or left gave me an almost completely black background which was nice too, but I think I prefer the dark green in this. Note too that I used the RF 2X Extender and shot this at 944 mm to get that framing. I also started using my tripod to ensure that I got the framing right and increase stability.
For many years now I’ve been a big fan of the yellow maple leaves that form on some of the trees in the maple garden. I was pleased to see this tree in good color, although I’ve seen it with richer yellows in the past. I’m happy with this next image though and find myself drawn, in a good way, to that brown leaf from a different tree that has gotten lodged between the yellow maple leaves. There are some little jewels of light shining through holes in that brown leaf too, which I also find appealing.
There’s also a wash of golden light across the bottom third of this photograph that I am not exactly sure where it came from, but I like it. It matches the out of focus leaves over on the right from a bow that was between me and the main subject. They’re sufficiently out of focus to not be distracting, and I hope that the viewer will find it relatively pleasing if they notice this. I zoomed out a little to 856 mm for this frame and was still using my tripod.
In this next shot, again, of the yellow leaves, we can see a little more form in that golden wash in the background, and the foreground out of focus leaves are a little bit more of a distraction this time, but I am still relatively happy with this. I also included those balls of red in the bottom left of the frame, which I think add a little something, rather than being a distraction. I think it kind of adds to the autumnal feel of the image.
Depending on how big your screen is, you might also be able to make out a creepy eye looking at the camera from the center of the right edge of the frame. It’s obviously just the light with a highlight catching something, but I can’t help thinking that this is someone looking at me, and I find that somewhat creepy.
On a hopefully more soothing note, here are the same leaves from an earlier photograph, but including a second bow of the tree, with a fallen leaf in the fork between the bows, which was catching the light now. This wider view also enabled me to include the leaves in the top left, which I thought added a little extra element of interest. I also feel that this has a more Japanese feel to it. There’s just something about the shape of the tree bows and the overall subtleness of the colors. Almost as though this were painted onto the lid of a lacquerware box or something.
Shortly after shooting the last image, I shot the iPhone photo and the wider scene of the leaves that we looked at to begin this episode with. After that, I left the maple garden for a while and had a walk around the park, when I found two gingko trees, one almost completely bare and one still fully clothed with yellow leaves. This final image for today is of the dew or rain droplets that were sitting on some of the fallen leaves.
I shot every image that I’ve shared today with the RF 100-500mm lens, except the iPhone shot, of course, but this is probably the widest as I pointed the camera straight down at the leaves, and opened up the lens to 159 mm. In case you hadn’t noticed, if you click on the images on the blog, they’ll open up in a lightbox with the EXIF data displayed, so you can check all of my settings that way if you are interested.
We’ll wrap it up there for this episode though. I hope you found that at least a little bit useful. Next week I’m going to share a number of hardware items that I find incredibly useful, again, in the hope that it will be useful to you too.
If you are going to buy any of the gear I mentioned from our friend at B&H Photo, please use my affiliate links to help support the podcast.
Almost a month after the Canon EOS R5 hit the streets, and just in time for the R6 release, the Capture One team has released an update for Capture One Pro that adds native support for both of these cameras, and as you’ll see, the image quality is a huge improvement over the DNG conversion workaround that many people have been using for the past month. So much so, that I’d recommend anyone that was using that workflow to go back to their original raw files and process them again to get the most out of this amazing new camera.
I am creating this post and podcast today, and although it will be a little on the short side, I want to get it out because the Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 lens release has been brought forward by a month, and I’ll be getting mine this Thursday, on August 27, the day of release, and will be trying to get out into the field to start and take this new lens through its paces so that I can report on my findings early next week.
Anyhow, there is generally a bit of a lag between the release of a new camera and Capture One Pro providing full support for it. I’ve become accustomed to that, and although I would very much prefer it if the camera manufacturers could work better with Phase One to enable earlier releases, in the grand scheme of things, waiting three to four weeks for this support isn’t such a bit deal, and when the support is added, it just reinforces one of the main reasons that I’m a Capture One Pro user. The image quality is just so much better. It’s sometimes only a subtle difference, and not always obvious until you compare images as we will today. The difference between Canon’s Digital Photo Professional and the DNG workaround images is so small that we’ll consider it insignificant, and just work through the four images that I wanted to share with you in pairs so that you can open them in the Lightbox, and we’ll also try looking at them with a before/after slider. None of these images have any processing done to them, other than the standard raw sharpening applied to all images by default so that you can see the baseline from which any further processing would begin.
Note too that these images were shot on the day that I got the EOS R5. I parked myself on a bench near the camera shop for a few minutes to put in a battery that I’d charged and brought along, and attach my strap, etc. and also quickly go through most of the important Menu settings before having a quick walk around West Shinjuku to grab these shots. In all of these pairs of images, the DNG Workaround processed image is on the left, and the Capture One Pro processed image is on the right.
So, you can either click on the images above and then navigate back and forth with your computer arrow keys or swipe in you are on a mobile device, or you can grab the vertical bar on the comparison image below, and compare the differences. Or you can, of course, do both. However, you look at the comparison I’m sure you’ll agree that the native Capture One Pro R5 support provides us with much better image quality than the converted DNG workflow produces. The blues are more natural and the building stands out much better than in the DNG image. It looks more like looking at the building than looking at a photograph of the building.
The same goes for the next shot of the same building. The Capture One Pro version is so much more vibrant and crisp, like I’m looking up at the building on the day that I actually shot the image.
This next pair of images, looking down the staircase of the Cocoon building so much more dynamic, and the texture of the metal is much more realistic. The DNG version is fine if that’s all you look at, but when you compare the two they are really worlds apart and keep in mind that this is without any additional processing. I’d probably add a little clarity and perhaps play with the Luma Tone Curve some, to enhance the image further.
This final pair from the first day is just the sunlight stream through the early summer tree foliage, but again, the difference between the two images is quite striking. You get a sense of the sunlight in the Capture One Pro version, but the DNG workaround shot is flat and lifeless in comparison. I couldn’t really tell in my initial review. The images looked OK, but now they’ve come to life, and it really makes me happy that Capture One Pro has now been updated.
Of course, how much of a difference you can see between these pairs of images will depend on your display. If you don’t see much difference, try a different computer. A desktop computer will generally be better than a laptop display, for example. If you didn’t already check out my EOS R5 Review, you can see that here.
If you are not already a Capture One Pro user, you can try it for a full month by downloading it here from www.captureone.com.
Anyway, I have a few other things to do today, then I’m off to pick-up my RF 100-500mm lens tomorrow, and will be out trying to get some photos that I can share with you hopefully early next week. Stay safe and sane in the meantime.
Preparing for what will be a slightly delayed arrival of my Canon EOS R5, I picked up a new ProGrade Digital CFexpress Type B card and dropped my friends at ProGrade Digital a line to ask about this new type of card, and they were kind enough to send me a few more cards to test, so today I’m going to share my findings along with a little more information as to why this new format is so exciting! I also picked up one of their Thunderbolt 3 Single-Slot Card Readers, and a USB 3.2 Gen 2.0 Dual-Slot Card Reader, which I have also compared and will report on shortly.
Let’s first touch on the difference between Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.2 Gen 2.0, as this feeds into at least part of the reason for getting both card readers. Thunderbolt 3 can transfer data at speeds up to 40 Gbps, and can also run displays as well as other peripheral devices. This is what I have in my iMac Pro and my 13 inch MacBook Pro, which was the first model to include four USB-C ports, which is shared by the Thunderbolt 3 standard.
There has been a lot of confusion over what was initially called USB 3.1 Gen 1 and Gen 2. These have now been renamed, but the confusing elements have, unfortunately, not really been removed. USB 3.1 Gen 1 is now USB 3.2 Gen 1 with a transfer speed of up to 5 Gbps, and USB 3.1 Gen 2 is now USB 3.2 Gen 2 with a transfer speed of up to 10 Gbps. There is also now a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 which was originally just USB 3.2, and that has transfer speeds of up to 20 Gbps. They are all about to be succeeded by USB 4, and hopefully, the standard will start to settle down with regards to silly confusing naming, but I’m not overly confident that this will happen given the recent track record.
What we have to test though will show you the practical differences between the 40 Gbps Thunderbolt 3 card reader and the 10 Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2 reader. On paper, the Thunderbolt 3 reader is 4 times faster, but in practical terms, Thunderbolt 3 far exceeds the speed of the cards, but they are faster than USB 3.2 Gen 2, so although there is a difference, they are both lightning-fast, and both will leave the old standards such as USB 2.0 standing. With the faster cards, both of these readers are even significantly faster than the original USB 3.0 which is now generally referred to as USB 3.1 Gen 1.
Occasionally people turn up on my workshops and tell me that their image transfer process takes a number of hours, or sometimes the entire evening on heavy wildlife trips. If you are spending this much time transferring images I definitely recommend getting an up to date card reader, and can’t recommend the ProGrade readers highly enough.
My decision to get both readers was based mostly on travel logistics. At my desk, I’m more than happy to use the larger Thunderbolt 3 Single Slot CFexpress card reader, which by the way, with the addition of software drivers also doubles as an XQD card reader, but I don’t have any XQD cards to test so we won’t go into that. This card reader though is around 9.8 x 9.8 cm, which gives it an area of 96 cm2. That is almost double the area of the 7 x 7 cm CFexpress and SD UHS-II dual card reader at 49 cm2.
When packing a little extra is not an issue I may pack the Thunderbolt 3 reader as well, to enable me to import two cards simultaneously, but I think for overseas travel I will probably just leave the larger reader on my desk at home and take just the smaller reader. Anyway, let’s look at some figures so that you can see just how well these cards and the respective readers perform.
I ran a series of tests using Black Magic Design’s Disk Speed Test application and noted the speeds captured after a couple of cycles had run on both the Write and Read speeds. If you’ve ever used this software you’ll know that there can be a lot of variance between tests, even with the same card in the same card reader, so these aren’t absolute fastest speeds, and they also don’t simulate writing photographs or video to the card. What these figures do is give you an idea of how fast these cards are compared to each other, using the two card readers.
As you can see, the more expensive Cobalt card has much faster write speeds than even ProGrade Digitals own Gold cards, hence the price point. It’s pretty amazing that they have achieved write speeds of around 1300 MB/s and read speeds of coming up to 1450 MB/s. During the tests, there were spikes much higher than these figures as well. The Cobalt card that I tested was a 325GB card, and they also have a 650GB card which I will pick up as soon as the slightly faster-updated version hits the Japan Amazon store.
The Gold cards also have very similar read speeds, but just under half the write speeds, at between 500 and 580 MB/s. I also included my fastest SDXC card to put these speeds into context. The cards that I’ve been using for the last few years with my EOS R are also a ProGrade Digital. The main two cards that stayed in both of my cameras was a 128 and a 256 GB Cobalt SDXC v90 card. These are slightly slower than the newest version available, as ProGrade seems to constantly tweak their products to squeeze out as much performance as possible, so seeing a jump in speed on the same card is not uncommon.
Here is a photo of both the CFexpress Type B card and my slightly outdated SDXC card, so that you can see the difference in size. Note that the Type B designation of this particular CFexpress card refers to its size, not the quality or speed. Type B cards are 38.5 x 29.8 x 3.8 mm. There is a smaller Type A card which is 20 x 28 x 2.8 mm and a larger Type C card which measures 54 x 74 x 4.8 mm. The Canon EOR R5 only takes the Type B CFexpress card, and the second slot is for SDXC cards, so be careful when you are buying your new CFexpress card for the R5. There are already some Type A cards in the wild, although Type C are a little more difficult to come by at this point.
In case you want to see the exact numbers that I jotted down for each card, here is a table of my results. As you’d expect, the Thunderbolt 3 card reader is quite a lot faster than the USB 3.2 Gen 2 reader, which keeps all of the cards under its maximum logical transfer speed of 10 Gbps. Keep in mind that the USB standard speeds are quoted in Gbps which is Gigabits per second, but the Disk Speed Test results are spat out in Megabytes per second. If we convert Thunderbolt 3’s 40 Gigabits per second to Gigabyte per second, we’re looking at around 5 Gigabytes per second. Likewise, the 10 Gigabits per second for USB 3.2 Gen 2 becomes 1.25 Gigabytes per second or 1250 Megabytes per second, so it would be physically impossible for the USB 3.2 Gen 2 card reader to transfer data at the speeds we saw with the Thunderbolt 3 reader.
Thunderbolt 3 Reader
USB 3.1 Gen 2 Reader
CFexpress 325GB Cobalt
CFexpress 512GB Gold
CFexpress 1TB Gold
SDXC v90 128GB
And for good measure, I’ll also share the Black Magic Design Disk Speed Test results for the CFexpress cards merged together into a single image.
What Does This Mean?
So, to think through what this means in terms of using the EOS R5 with these new CFexpress cards, I checked Canon’s data transfer speeds to see if I could identify any possible areas of concern, so let’s touch on a few of the key points here.
The most demanding format to write in looks to be 8K DCI video in Raw mode which requires a transfer rate of approximately 2600 Mbps, or 325 MB/s, and that is below the minimum write speed that I saw with both the Cobalt and Gold CFexpress cards from ProGrade Digital. Canon also has an area stating that for 8K Raw video you’ll need a CFexpress card with write speeds over 400 MB/s and for ALL-I you’ll need over 200 MB/s. What this tells us is that both the Cobalt and Gold cards from ProGrade Digital should be up to the task of shooting 8K Raw video, but as I haven’t actually tried this yet, I won’t be able to say for sure until I get my R5.
As far as I can see this also poses no issues at all for the high frame rate shooting possible with the R5, but the faster the write speed of the card, the more quickly we should be able to clear our buffer and be ready to continue shooting. Canon are claiming that the Raw buffer size is 66 images on a UHS-I SD card and 88 images on UHS-II SD cards, and they don’t say anything about the buffer size when using CFexpress cards, so my guess is that it’s probably going to be such a high number that filling the buffer will be a very rare occurrence, and probably not something that I want to do using my own camera in my tests, but I will try to do as much as possible and report back as soon as I get my EOS R5.
Unfortunately, I heard from the store that I ordered my R5 from and they are not able to get me mine today, which is the day of release. There is also a statement on the Canon website here in Japan apologizing for not being able to fulfill all orders on the day of release. It would seem that the EOS R5 is already exceeding Canon’s expectations, and I’m disappointed not to be able to get my review underway on the day of release as well. Hopefully, it won’t be many days into August before I get mine, and I’ll report on my findings as soon as I am able to.
As I say, I’ll also update you on how the ProGrade Digital cards fair in the R5, but I am honestly expecting them to work pretty much flawlessly. The only thing that I have on my radar to look out for is the possibility of the camera overheating when shooting 8K video, and this is being put down to the CFexpress cards themselves overheating. I read that when these cards overheat they thermal throttle down to 200 MB/s, which would mean that if you are in a situation where the camera or card does overheat, you would need to switch from 8K Raw video to ALL-I. Personally, I generally shoot in ALL-I anyway, so this is not something that I am really concerned about at this point.
Although I’m looking forward to shooting some 8K video, it’s the still photography specs like the frame-rate and resolution of the R5 that have me salivating over this camera, and the high video specs are really just a bonus. I do see me shooting more video with the R5 than ever before though, simply because the quality will probably be out of this world, but I’ll update you on this in due course as well.
Before we finish I would like to add that I am really excited about these quantum leaps we’re seeing in the technology that are enabling manufacturers to do so much more. I honestly did not expect Canon to come out with a camera the size of the R5 with such high frame-rates at such high resolution, but I also was not aware of the CFexpress standard until I placed my order for the R5 and looked into the type of memory cards it used. I knew as soon as I saw the specs that it could not be SDXC, so was highly interested in this new form factor, and so far have been blown away by all that I’ve seen. Most of this, of course, has been driven by ProGrade Digital, so a hearty thank you goes back to them for the work they do in helping to push the industry and ultimately our creative potential forward.
Support the Podcast and Blog
OK, so we’ll start to wrap this up for now. If you are preparing for the arrival of your Canon EOS R5 and you still need to place an order for a CFexpress memory card, please do consider the ProGrade Digital range. I believe these are the best cards on the market now and can recommend them without any concerns at all. If you want to support my efforts too, please use my affiliate links if you buy from Amazon.com or B&H Photo.
As I mentioned, I did buy one of my new CFexpress cards and the Thunderbolt card reader myself, but the good folks at ProGrade Digital sent me the rest of this gear to test, and although I thank them for that, this does not in any way alter how I report my findings to you. As always with my reviews, I will also let you know if I find any shortcomings with products that I test, regardless of how I obtain the product.
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Canon has started taking orders for the EOS R5 and a wealth of other gear, and it will result in me changing more gear in such a short space of time than ever before, so today I’m going to explain my strategy and expectations for the future. The EOS R5 was first announced around six months ago, with Canon uncharacteristically publishing a news release about the fact that they were developing this camera and a number of other lenses including a new 100-500mm RF lens.
If you’ve been following my blog or podcast for the last few years, you’ll already know that I am all in on Canon’s mirrorless camera range, but I’ll step back a little further and explain what changed, and why I have been so happy to make this shift, and then move on to why I’m really looking forward to the R5 and how my gear bag will completely transform over the next two months. I’ll also talk about how I’m essentially doing this with virtually no additional expenditure, although that is mostly due to past investment, and not some magic formula that I’ve stumbled across.
Why Canon Mirrorless?
First, let’s talk about why I’m all in with the Canon RF Mirrorless system. You’ll probably agree that Canon came late to the mirrorless camera market, and I have to tell you, that around the time they released the Canon EOS 5Ds R, I was seriously considering jumping ship to Sony. Sony has and continues to really push the boundaries with mirrorless and have probably been a big factor in finally forcing Canon to pull their thumb out of their aperture. The high resolution and image quality of the 5Ds R were enough to keep me loyal though, and since its release in the summer of 2015, I was in many ways totally happy with my gear, and my decision to stay with Canon.
I took great pleasure in blowing all of the myths about the 5Ds R out of the water, using it hand-held at low shutter speeds and high ISOs, and for most major genres, including wildlife, which no-one thought this camera was capable of. Even my friends at Canon told me that they weren’t necessarily 100% happy with what I was publishing, because they didn’t think that everyone could pull as much out of the 5Ds R as I could, but for me, that just made me even happier to do what I was doing.
When the EOS R was announced almost two years ago, I initially pretty much ignored it, mostly because I was in gear nirvana. I was so happy with the gear that I owned that I just didn’t have my antenna out looking for anything other than a higher resolution 5Ds R. But then I stumbled across a technical document about the RF mount, and after a few minutes looking at that, I realized that Canon had done what they needed to do to not only get into the mirrorless game but to put a foundation in place to help them lead it. It was also obvious to me at that point, that Canon wasn’t playing at this. They’d developed a mount that would take their camera system into a new era.
The RF mount has more electronic contacts, helping them to do more with the lens, like the addition of the Control Ring, which I love having mapped to my ISO, but the biggest change was that the RF mount puts the back of the lens just 20mm from the sensor. Compared to 44mm with the EF mount, because they needed room for the mirror, the light coming out of the back of the lens has less distance to travel and therefore doesn’t spread out as much, which of course, leads to sharper images.
Not to say that the images from my old EF lenses were bad in any way, but as I showed in my 5Ds R and EOS R Printoff post, a 30-megapixel image from the EOS R with the RF 24-105mm lens could be printed larger than a 50-megapixel image with the EF 24-105mm lens. I also have a quick test shot to share later from the new RF 15-35mm f/2.8 lens that absolutely blew me away with regards to edge sharpness on such a wide-angle lens.
EOS R Not Perfect, But…
I saw Canon’s future in that one document about the RF lens mount, and it gave me enough confidence to sell one of my 5Ds R bodies, and replace it with my first EOS R at the end of 2018. On my Hokkaido Landscape Tour & Workshop, I found the first problem with the EOS R that would hamper my photography a number of times over the course of the next year, and that was the tendency for the electronic viewfinder to fog up if the camera got wet. It didn’t seem to be a problem when it was really cold, but in temperatures floating around freezing point, it was a pain.
As I got stuck into faster-paced shooting on my Japan Wildlife Tours in 2019, even with the settings adjusted to give the best possible performance of the electronic viewfinder, I found that I was always looking at a stroboscopic view of the subject as I released the shutter in burst mode, and although I got used to it after a day or so, it would occasionally cost me a few frames. These two issues were really the only issues though, and I could work around both and was in general very happy with the EOS R. So much so that I quickly replaced my second 5Ds R with a second EOS R, and sold my EF 24-105mm lens. I also sold my EF 85mm f/1.4 lens and replaced it with the RF 50mm f/1.2 lens, which is absolutely stunning!
No Newly Developed EF Lenses
I was all-in and confident that Canon was on the right track, and then they announced that they will not be developing any new EF lenses, to enable them to concentrate of the RF line-up, and I did a few mental fist-pumps, as this proved to me that my hunches had been spot-on. The RF mount is the future of Canon. Canon’s lens mounts over almost a century of camera manufacturing have mostly lasted around ten years each, until the EF mount which was released in 1987, and lasted over thirty years. Although there will be no new EF lenses developed, they’ll still be manufactured for a while to support current customers, so the EF era isn’t necessarily over, but with the RF mount coming onto the scene in 2018, it makes me wonder if it’s going to outrun the EF lineup. If it does, the RF mount will probably outlive me too, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
So, that’s the background, now let’s talk about what’s coming soon, and my strategy to move pretty much all of my work over to RF glass and the new EOS R5 which will be hitting the streets in about a week’s time. The biggest change that I’ve just executed, although I decided that this would be what I’d do in January this year, is that I have just sold my 200-400mm lens, with the built-in 1.4X Extender. I loved that lens, but want to talk about the reasons for letting it go.
First and foremost, is that since Canon released the updated 100-400mm lens in the summer of 2016, I actually really only used the 200-400mm for the Red-Crowned Cranes, owls and foxes on my Japan Winter Wildlife Tours. Even for the rest of this tour I almost exclusively used the 100-400mm, so we are talking around 4 to 5 days of use per year, and that really isn’t enough to warrant keeping it. For my other wildlife work, such as Namibia, and all other trips that I do, the 100-400mm was the longest lens that I took along.
That is the main reason for letting it go, making up around 70% of the incentive, with around 29% of the remainder being a financial incentive. With the virus hitting my business pretty hard, I simply cannot afford to buy all of the new gear that is coming along without selling something, and I was able to get the equivalent of around $6,000 US for my six and a half-year-old lens, and along with the money I got for one of my EOS R bodies, will pay for both the EOS R5 and the new 100-500mm lens which is scheduled for release in September.
The other change which I have made just last week is that I have sold my EF 11-24mm f/4 lens, along with my Mark III 1.4X and 2X Extenders, and they came to around $15 more than I needed to pick up the RF 15-35mm f/2.8 lens, which has actually been on the market for around six months already. I have been planning to make this change for a while, but because I wasn’t in a position to also sell the Extenders, I held off until now. And if you are wondering what I’m going to do for extenders now, well, I actually had around $1,600 of points from selling the second of my 5Ds R bodies, and that neatly covers the cost of the two new RF mount Extenders which are also being released in around a week’s time.
Extender Zoom Restrictions
With the 100-500mm a couple of months out, the Extenders will have no lens to attach them to for a while, but I’ll report on how these work with the 100-500mm as soon as I get a chance to shoot with them in September. One relatively large disappointment with this combination is that the 100-500 lens is restricted to a 300mm widest focal point when used with the new Extenders.
Looking at the design, it’s obvious that the protruding elements of the Extenders prevent the back element of the lens from moving to their full extent, so instead of a 200-1000mm lens with the 2X Extender, we get a 600-1000mm lens, and with the 1.4X Extender, we’re looking at a 420-700mm lens. This does reduce the versatility of the lens when combined with the Extenders, but this is, at this point, the first time that the shorter distance to the sensor has added a negative aspect to Canon’s RF Mount and Mirrorless line-up. I’ll live with it, and having the ability to shoot at up to 1000mm with such a small system will be very welcome too.
The Final Upcoming Change
To round out all of my planned changes, I will actually sell the EF 100-400mm and my second EOS R body in September, when the 100-500mm is released, and expect that the money I get for those two items will get me pretty close to what I need to buy a second EOS R5. I really like shooting with two identical bodies, and I know for a fact that once I start shooting with the R5, taking my EOS R as a second body will really mean that unless the R5 broke, the second body would hardly get used. It’s not that the EOS R is a bad camera. I really do like that camera, but I know how my mind works, and when there are benefits to be reaped from using something else, I generally go with that.
I recall being in Iceland around six years ago with my 5D Mark III and a 1 DX body and killed my 5D Mark III in the rain to prove a point, and I hated the fact that I had to drop down from 22 megapixels to 18 for the few days that it took for my 5D to come back to life. That was me worrying over just 4 megapixels, so I know that a drop of 15 megapixels from the R5 to the EOS R will be too great for my simple mind to handle.
A Tribute to the 200-400mm Lens
I can’t say that I am all smiles regarding these changes. I will miss the 200-400mm and 11-24mm lenses. These two lenses are absolutely amazing and have been a pleasure to own. In the past, I’ve done entire posts as tributes to lenses that I’ve had to let go. I just opened Capture One Pro and started looking through my 200-400mm shots hoping to find just one that I could share and say, this is my favorite! But that plan went out of the window in just a few minutes. I managed to whittle it down to a selection of 10 images though, so I’ll drop those into an album in case anyone is interested.
I was reminded too, as I looked through these images, how liberating it was to switch from the 600mm f/4 and 300mm f/2.8 to just the one lens, and the zoom and built-in extender made it incredibly versatile. I also remember though that in the few years before Canon releasing the Mark II 100-400mm lens, I would routinely hand-hold the 200-400mm on the boat photographing the sea eagles.
That Missing 1%
I also just recalled that I didn’t tell you what the last 1% of my reason for selling the 200-400mm lens was. Well, it was because as wonderful as it was to have that 1.4X Extender built right into the lens, there were a number of times in fast-paced shooting when I’d lose shots through being indecisive about the timing of flipping that switch. Of course, having to take the lens off the camera to add an external extender takes much longer, but when it’s fitted, or not fitted, you generally run with it until the action stops. There’s less to be indecisive about.
A Tribute to the 11-24mm Lens
I did the same exercise with images from my 11-24mm lens, and actually found it harder to whittle down my initial selection of 41 images to just ten, but here again, is an album of my favorite ten images with this lens. I know I’m a big softy, but I enjoy looking back and taking a moment to pay tribute to the gear that has helped me to capture what I consider to be some of my best work.
There will be times when I miss that 4mm that I’m losing by switching from the 11-24mm to a 15-35mm lens, but I can’t say I’ll miss having to take the lens off my camera to put a piece of cut gelatin ND filter into the filter holder on the back of the 11-24mm lens, and then try to get it back on the camera without moving the focus or zoom rings, because with heavy filters, even by increasing the ISO, I couldn’t see to compose and focus with the filter attached. But otherwise, I’ll certainly miss the 11-24mm.
RF 15-35mm f/2.8 Lens First Impressions
Having literally only shot a handful of images with the RF 15-35mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens at this point, I’m not really in a position yet to do a full review, but I did want to share a few images in a First Impressions style update. The first thing that hit me as I took the 15-35mm lens out of its box is that it’s bigger than I anticipated, but being an f/2.8 lens, and a sturdily built L lens, I guess I should have expected that, and it certainly isn’t a problem.
I lose 4mm on the wide end of the focal length zoom range and gain 11mm on the long end, and it will be nice to once again have a little overlap with my 24-105mm lens, which makes it more versatile. Here is a photo of the two lenses together, to give you an idea of their difference in size and shape. Note that the 15-35mm lens is slightly closer to the camera so that I could focus on the text of both lenses, and that might make the 15-35mm lens look slightly larger by comparison. At 840g though, the 15-35mm is a welcome 340g lighter than the 11-24mm lens, and dimensions-wise it’s 20mm smaller in diameter, and 5mm shorter in height.
Before I boxed up the 11-24mm lens to send to the shop that I’d bought the 15-35mm lens from in part-exchange, I placed the 50mm lens on the table, and from approximately the same distance, shot a photo with each of the wide-angle lenses at the widest focal length. This may not be an apples-to-apples comparison, but with limited time, I found the information that I was most concerned about, and that was how much wider that 4mm gets me in practical use, and sharp the lenses are in comparison, at the center, and near their edges.
First, here are the two images uncropped, so that you can see the approximate difference between 11mm and 15mm. You’ll have to excuse my shadow on the left of the frame and that I didn’t use a tripod. As you can see, either side of the white background paper is more visible in the 11mm shot, but it’s not a huge amount. Click on one of the images then navigate back and forth with your mouse or arrow keys on your keyboard to compare the images.
Next, here is a crop of just the 50mm lens from the middle of the frame, so that you can compare the sharpness of the two lenses. The 11-24mm lens image is on the left, and the image from the 15-35mm lens is on the right. There is not a lot in it, but under close inspection, you can see that the 15-35mm lens image is slightly sharper.
In this final pair of crops though, all from the same image, we can compare the sharpness of the two lenses near the edge of the frame. On the left is the image from the 11-24mm and the image shot using the 15-35mm lens is on the right. I was blown away by how much sharper the 15-35mm lens is close to its edge, wide open, at 15mm.
I thought for a moment that the lens in the edge of the image shot with the 11-24mm lens might be out of the depth of field, but at 11mm, focusing at around 60cm or two feet, and with an aperture of f/5.6 which is what I was using, with my Photographer’s Friend app set in Pixels Peeper mode, which is the most punishing, we still have almost 60 cm or two feet of focus, so that is not the case. The 15-35mm lens is just amazing! I was never really unhappy with the sharpness of the 11-24mm at the edges, but that was before I saw what Canon could do with the RF mount and their mirrorless camera bodies. This, to me, is a revelation!
This whole slew of new gear is a revelation in many ways too. Over the last six years or so, Canon has enabled me to gradually shrink my kit down, while continuously increasing the image quality of my work. I have, of course, yet to see what the Canon EOS R5 and the new 100-500mm lens is capable of, but I trust that Canon wouldn’t release anything that is a smidgeon less than stellar at this point, so I’m really just not worried about that. I will continue to report on my findings and hope that it helps those of you that reside with me in the Canon camp or are thinking of jumping ship.
We’ll start to wrap this episode up there. If you are thinking of picking up any of this new gear that we’re seeing released in the coming months, and you found this post useful, please help to support my efforts by buying with our B&H Photo affiliate links to the right. You might also want to check out my gear page on B&H as this is updated relatively regularly, and some RF related changes will be implemented soon! No lenses or cameras were injured or ill-treated during the making of this review, and no-one paid me to do this or gave me any of the gear that I talked about today.